How the pandemic is defining friendship

How the pandemic is defining friendship

Self-care comes in many forms— a warm bath, a good book, a long workout but what about those intimate chats or lively dinners and drinks with friends? The days of the pandemic are here and COVID has changed much about our modus operandi.  With many working from home, practicing social distancing or both, how we interact with our social circles is changing and evolving. “Many friendships are flailing a little during quarantine because we’ve become so conditioned to the typical ways of spending time together,” says Jacqueline Holden, a professional counselor.

Aristotle identified 3 types of friendships: those of utility, of pleasure and of virtue. The first two types of friendship (utility and pleasure) are typically short lived once their purposes are served or either parties’ interests drift apart. The third type of friendship (virtue) is rooted in mutual growth occurring, shared morals, values, and tend to be longer lasting.  “Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, reaching out to a trusted friend can be an act of self-care,” says Holden. “Especially for those friendships that would fall into the “virtue” category, where you both may be able to commiserate and provide support to each other.”

Evaluating the meaning of friendship

Now is a great time to reflect on what friendship really means to you, the purpose those relationships serve in your life and if they are meeting your needs. “Sometimes we put too much pressure on our friendships expecting them to fulfill all our needs; however, being intentional with your friendships is key to feeling fulfilled in your relationships,” explains Holden. Quarantine has given us an opportunity to slow down and possibly realize that we weren’t doing much connecting after all. Now may be a great time to intentionally pursue friendships by checking in on people you’ve lost connection with or others you’ve wanted to deepen connection with.

Self-care and friendship

Friendship isn’t often listed as a form of self-care but we tend to seek out these relationships more than exercise or a good book to read. Humans have an innate need for social connection and we may be seeking this connection now more than ever as the state of the current social climate and health crisis may be causing many of us some added anxiety and stress.  “A really big way people deal with anxiety is through socialization and their deepest, most intimate relationships,” says psychotherapist Matt Lundquist. While it may not be the most ideal time to go out for drinks, suggesting a morning video call over coffee or even a regular old-fashioned phone call with a friend in lieu of a text could help relieve stress and anxiety.             

Discovering new rhythms

We have been given the opportunity to reevaluate relationships and define what quality time and connecting really means to us and ask what friendship will look like after pandemic life is over. How will we interact with friends as many seek to find some sense of normalcy? Maybe social media will begin to fulfill its mission of bringing people closer together, maybe calling a friend will happen more than sending quick texts or maybe putting pen to paper and sending out a letter will make a comeback. Whatever it may be—the value of slowing down and nurturing these relationships is worthwhile and hopefully we will maintain the habits of connecting with those we care about more frequently even after the pandemic quietens.


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